The Wasabi powered double blagged | borrowed Orange Five ride.

Busy weekend with the children doing 100 things, and myself largely consuming wasabi peas*, but I've access to the borrowed Orange Five so should try and fit some rides in. Ended up fitting two rides in around various kids' activities, so both ride were short two hour affairs. Actually both were supposed to be only one hour outings.... And aren't I lucky to live so close to decent off road trails? Out of my front door I can be properly off-road on muddy / dusty trails within ten minutes ride time.

This fitting rides in amongst kids activities sounds like a rush job but often it isn't, and often the rides can be pretty decent. This coming Friday, for instance, my son is off to archery. Now this could involve my taking him there, hanging around in some dive of a pub for two hours, then bringing him back. Now whilst the pub does actually appeal, archery is actually taking place at the base of the chalk path up Coley Hill. Well why not charge my lights this week and instead of drinking beer whilst he kills rabbits or whatever, just go for a two hour night ride? What exactly is bad about that?

Back to this weekend. Saturday managed to get out just after 3pm. Rather unusually the trails were lovely and dry. Not dusty, but pretty dry for what we've had to put up with of late. Nominally only had an hour out to play so figured on doing loops of Reigate Hill - essentially my night rides compressed a little. Now this sounds dire, and indeed it would be if that was all there is to mountain biking, but there are several routes up, and naturally several routes down again, some of them quite steep and slippery. Using the little bridleway that links the A217 with Wray Lane means that the climbs back up are not tedious [and for the life of me I don't know why AD doesn't use this route up the hill - I'll make a mental note to ask him]. Indeed that little link path makes it quite pleasant, although there is still a short sharp shock at the end; you've still got to get up the hill somehow.

Sunday was the same; a repeat in entirety although I did the descents in a different order. Kids did some martial arts test in the morning [almost black belts before age ten], were pooped in the afternoon, so I sneaked out. Literally - grabbed the bike and off out in jeans and trainers. Rather oddly people look at you differently as a cyclist then. One imagines that I'm one of those people that drive to the top of Reigate Hill, pootle about for ten minutes, then gorge on snack stuffs at the cafe whilst telling all and sundry how rad they are. But on one of my loops, right at the bottom I said "hello" to a couple of fit looking cyclists who were about to start the bridleway climb up as I was heading off towards Redhill. I passed them again as they were still climbing, this time me on a flying downhill along the bridleway. I got a different look then, one that said "hey, well done" which bigged me up no end. But then the climb they were doing is a real nasty that I've never cleaned, so fair play to them both.

Of course this going out later than usual presents certain benefits. Firstly the day has had a chance to warm up, which counts a lot in my book. Then there's the usual panic over finding kit that early starts always seem to involve. At 8am I can never find my gloves | socks | shoes | head or whatever. By 2pm it all seems to present itself nicely. There's also the cheapness of it as a cafe stop seems passe. Fanny's Farm is too far off the beaten path; Urban Kitchen the wrong side of expensive; the caravan at Headley has rubbish coffee; and Box Hill now seems all wrong since it has been done up. It reminds me of a Sainsbury's cafe somehow, no soul, no originality. It's just a big roadie bike park that serves reasonable coffee and cakes.

But the negatives are more pedestrians - boy did it take ages to get past thirty or so people near the Urban cafe. Top tip: if you are in a group of, say, six people and one of you sees or even hears me calling out "may I pass please" why not instead of silently moving aside, perhaps communicate with your children or other dog walkists that there is a cyclist about to bump into them? Apologies to the thirty fifth person I passed silently at speed, but by then you'd all done my head in! Indeed for the more elderly people, those without children or dogs, it seems safer just to nip past quietly, as if you give them prior warning they seem to want to go in seven directions at once, all of them random. In any event if you politely call out, just call out or simply pass the outcome is the same; they all without fail give you the death stare and mumble as to where your bell is. Saying this I once bought a bell and used it. I got more grief from that device than anything else; loads of lip from elderly gentlemen that I should stop being so pushy and just ask if I could pass! Go figure. Hmmm, post 2pm rides need to be considered in more detail me thinks, if only for my own sanity.

Go on then, whilst I'm having a moan. What is it with these idiots who have dogs on rope leads that are at least 30ft long? Are they in control of the animals? Doubt it. Couple of times this weekend I came up behind somebody only to find out that whilst they'd moved to one side of the trail, their dog was in the woods the other side. And the owners always look surprised and slightly apologetic, as if they're not the ones walking the dog. If you can't control the animal other than by way of a stupidly long lead, then really should you have a dog in the first place? Laughingly I also saw one man ride over the concrete bridge with his dog lead tied to the handlebar of his bike. Now there's stupid for you isn't there? What was going through his little goldfish mind at the time?

Moving on.

Both times I was on the 26" Orange Five. It's a nice bike but in basic pro form needs work to make it good. Indeed it has had quite a bit done to it since I last saw it. For a start it has gone tubeless via Stan's rims and Superstar hubs; Nobby Nic tyres from Schwlabe; there is a 50mm stem in place of the silly 65mm one; carbon handlebars; a Ti railed saddle; and Bontrager grips. Instead of being near 32lb it is now heading towards sub 29lb and it shows. I don't think the 3lb weight loss in itself is the cause, but the bike moves around a lot easier now. Before it was a bit of a slow witted barge whereas now it is quite flighty and turns very well. To my mind the slight weight loss in the wheels themselves must be the answer; possibly even just swopping out the tyres would make a mahoosive difference. The bike must have lost a lot of mass from the stock wire bead Maxxis Advantage tyres [that never gripped anyway] and lardy Mavic rims. [I understand that this wasn't actually that much - perhaps 1lb in total.]

It flies just about everywhere now and is quite lovely. But..... The chain doesn't half mash against the swingarm and is noisy as anything; it needs a clutch rear mech. The gearing seems at odds with the bike image; why the triple up front? I don't get it at all, as surely a double or single would be better. Indeed for my rides up and down Reigate Hill I left the chain on the middle ring the whole time. No real need for a granny or 42t outer. The rear shock also seems both good and bad at the same time. It's lovely and floaty, but bottoms out alarmingly easily. I know nothing about suspension, but seeing as I am frightened of getting air, the fact that it bottoms out with my pootling seems funny**. It shouldn't do that should it? And whilst on the negatives, my old Klein Mantra used to brake jack like mad. The Orange Five isn't so bad, and in general riding it isn't obvious. But brake hard into a road junction or trail end and brake jack is obvious. It's not a biggie, but then again isn't something I'd expect.

Something else I don't expect is the smell of cooked bakes after every descent. Perhaps I'm going faster than I do on my PACE RC303, but I doubt it. The Avid brakes on the Five stink.

Ooo, forgot. On the downtube it now has a Mucky Nutz Gut Fender. Makes all the difference that does. I didn't get any mud on my top or face at all. True it wasn't a muddy ride, but there was enough of the stuff to know that the fender works.

A word on the tubeless conversion. The front tyre used a Fenwick's sealant, the rear Stan's. The Fenwick's isn't very good with a Scwalbe tyre. You can see it leaching out of the sidewalls and the tyre goes down over a day or two; it was flat when I got it Saturday morning, and was flat again Sunday afternoon. The rear Stan's hasn't been touched in ages.

To sum up, the 'perfect' Five has a clutch mech, doesn't have a silly 3x10 set-up, and is tubeless ready. It also weighs in at 28lb to 29lb and has proper Shimano or Hope brakes. No idea if it needs a dropper post as I've not really tried it with one on. I'd be frightened of adding even more mass to an already lard arsed bike. It may also work better as a 650b design as I kept catching the pedal, so the bottom bracket must be pretty low as in 20 years of riding these hills I've never caught a pedal on any other bike. Yes, a 650b Orange Five may be an interesting beast - the 29er looks ungainly as only an Orange Five can. Looking at the bike I don't think it would take much to cram a 650b in there. But then the associated loss may be the flighty feel? Dunno, talking out of my arse as I've never tried a 650b.....

In all a nice weekend. Managed three rides out in three days, two on a borrowed £4,000 rig. That doesn't happen often does it? Could get used to it mind.

*There's a penalty for such consumption the next day. 10 out of 10 for toilet odour I say, but then I did spend five years working on a production line where such things count a lot.
**Aha! Turns out that the shock has already been back to Mojo for remedial work. The bike is three months old. That's not right is it?